How many days are in your training week? If you’re like most of us, seven. But this is because we are tools, creatures of habit, small-minded folks who cannot conceive of a schedule that is approximately seven days without being exactly seven days.
I mean, some of us may have trouble counting to seven at all. (Here I am required to remind everyone of the bodybuilders who could not agree on whether a standard calendar week had seven or eight days.) But really, why do we expect our long run to fall on Saturdays, or to bench press every Monday? There’s no need to be beholden to the calendar at all.
Longer “weeks” allow for more recovery and variety
Exercise programs will often put the hardest workout of the week on the weekend. In the case of a very long run, this can be helpful for time management. (Many of us can find a three-hour block of time more easily on a Saturday than a random weekday.)
But often the real reason is that those hard workouts require more recovery. If you’re pulling a heavy deadlift, you may not be ready for another workout like that for a whole ’nother week. And, in fact, you may benefit from more than seven days between deadlifts. It’s not unusual for powerlifters or strongman competitors to deadlift every ten days or so, instead of having to choose between doing it every week or every other week.
Another good reason to extend your training week is to get more variety in. If your long run is every Saturday, and you don’t want to do a hard workout the day before or the day after the long run, you only have four days to cram in your strength training and your speedwork. While there are plenty of creative solutions for this, you can also extend the week. A nine-day training week is currently enjoying some popularity in the running world, with room for strength, long runs, speedwork, and tempo runs all in the same “week” while still allowing plenty of easy days in between.
Digital calendars too restricting? Go off grid and track your routine on paper:
- Clever Fox Fitness & Food Journal
- Bodyminder Exercise Journal
- Day-by-Day Run Planner
Shorter “weeks” let you get more work in
The downside of a longer training week is that you have to wait longer between those harder workout sessions. If you’re not doing a long run or a massive deadlift every weekend, you might want to compress your schedule a bit.
For example, many strength programs have you lift Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Often, the only reason to take two days off for the weekend, instead of just one, is the way our brains lock onto calendar days. For many three-day programs, it works fine to skip the double rest day and simply work out every other day. This way, you get more total work in each week. Keep up this schedule for an entire year, and you’ll perform an extra 26 workouts.